With the January transfer window edging closer, the Premier League’s 'Big Six' may look to bring in reinforcements. Ninad Barbadikar looks at what they need and who they should sign.
It’s a delicate situation in Mikel Arteta’s camp at the moment. Whilst things look to have improved on the pitch, it’s a different story off of it.
Club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was stripped of his captaincy due to disciplinary issues and has recently been linked with a move to Barcelona.
Arteta singled out Alexandre Lacazette and praised the Frenchman’s influence on the Gunners’ young attacking frontline. For now, at least, it seems as though Arteta wishes to keep him around.
A longer-term solution, however, must be found for Arsenal’s issues upfront. Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic has been a name constantly mentioned with a move to England likely either in January or in the summer.
Vlahovic has also recently rejected a contract extension from the Italian club, hinting that he would be all for a move away from La Viola.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have also been linked with a move for the Serbian which could prove to be tough competition for Arteta to beat.
But, there is a more achievable solution closer to home in the form of Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The 24-year-old has been out since August with a fractured toe but impressed last season in an Everton side that eventually finished mid-table.
Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe, Mohamed Elneny and Aubameyang will all be unavailable for at least a month due to AFCON duties.
Those absentees will ask further questions of Arteta and an already thin squad, so it will be interesting to see how they cope, and if they can maintain their top four push.
Chelsea were flying high at the start of the season, but more recently the Blues have struggled to cope with the impact of Covid and injuries to important players.
That being said, the midfield crisis at the moment could further escalate the club’s desire to get a deal done for AS Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni.
The Frenchman has long been linked with a move to the Bridge and given that N’Golo Kante's availability is not always certain, Tchouameni might just be the perfect fit.
Tchouameni’s defensive numbers are an impressive read. He averages 3.65 tackles per game with a success rate of 79%.
These numbers are especially more impressive when you consider the fact that Monaco are a side that enjoy a lot of possession (58.3%).
All in all though, once the squad recovers from the effects of Covid, the situation should be better for Tuchel and co.
A January move for Tchouameni will not come easily and Roman Abramovich might need to pay a significant fee to get a transfer over the line.
There is still a lot of confusion about Liverpool’s situation in January because of the African Cup of Nations.
With Naby Keita officially confirmed as part of the 27-man squad for Guinea, it may just be a matter of time before the club has to let go of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
To Jurgen Klopp's relief, Joel Matip has decided to stay back and will not be competing in the tournament with Cameroon.
Depending on whether or not players like Salah and Mane depart with their countries, Liverpool's transfer plans may change drastically at the final moment.
It might be smart to boost the forward line in any case, with the drop off from Salah and Mane to the back-ups considerable.
While Divock Origi has received words of praise recently from Klopp, he hasn't shown that he can consistently perform at a high level for 90 minutes and doesn't post the kind of numbers to match Salah, Mane or Roberto Firmino when does.
Diogo Jota already looks like one for the present and future and Liverpool might have to find someone similar to him, a player who can push Salah, Mane and Firmino for starting berths.
Klopp may not have to look much further than Christopher N'Kunku at RB Leipzig to find the right fit.
The Frenchman is adept at playing in different roles across the frontline and fits Liverpool's style of football like a glove.
It is worth noting that Nkunku is already posting the kind of numbers that Jota did at Wolves, before his transfer to Liverpool.
Nkunku has averaged 0.45 xG/95 in the Bundesliga this season, while also creating at an impressive rate, averaging 0.26 expected assists (xA) per 95 minutes.
Jota's numbers from his final season at Wolves are quite similar, averaging 0.46 xG/95 and 0.10 xA/95.
With Leipzig undergoing something of a transition year after life under Julian Nagelsmann, now might be the perfect time for Liverpool to pounce.
If you ask Pep Guardiola about whether his team needs a striker or not, you’re likely to get a long-winded way of saying no, but there’s little doubt that he would prefer to have a proper striker feeding on the numerous chances his players create.
This season, Manchester City’s attacking process has once again shone through brilliantly, averaging a whopping 2.45 expected goals for (xGF) per game - only Liverpool can better that (2.73).
The rumour mill continues to link them with Borussia Dortmund hitman Erling Haaland, who is a dream pick for Europe’s elite.
The Norwegian has overperformed his xG by nearly five goals, scoring 13 from chances worth a total xG of 8.39, averaging an eye-watering 0.83 xG/95 domestically this term.
Another name that has also been prominently mentioned is Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic.
Guardiola is said to be keen on the Serb and the Italian side might be tempted to let him go for a premium fee in January instead of the summer, with the striker already rejecting their recent contract offer.
Vlahovic is the top scorer in Serie A with 16 goals this season from chances equating to 9.53 xG, a significant overperformance but somewhat unsurprising for a player who averages 3.56 shots and 0.53 xG/95.
Last season, he averaged 0.56 xG/95, showing the levels of consistency required to succeed at the top level.
Both strikers would be a signal of intent from City as they once again look to beat the competition and secure another Premier League title.
The Citizens are also rumoured to be open to selling Spanish international Ferran Torres and any funds generated from that sale might directly boost a push for either Haaland or Vlahovic.
After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s departure, Manchester United’s season has been revitalised by the arrival of Ralf Rangnick at the helm.
Though only a manager for the interim, there are already a few noteworthy changes on and off the pitch for the Red Devils.
Looking ahead to the January window, signing a midfielder has to be the priority for Rangnick.
Fred has already shown positive signs in terms of his suitability to Rangnick’s system and now it’s just a case of finding the right player to partner him in the midfield.
Formerly the man behind RB Leipzig’s rise, Rangnick may turn to his previous employers as rumours have linked him with a move for Amadou Haidara.
The Malian international has been highly praised by Rangnick in the past and it is no secret that the German is a big admirer of the midfielder.
The African Cup of Nations may complicate this move and it will be interesting to see if Rangnick pursues a deal regardless.
Antonio Conte will look forward to testing the waters in January and seeing how he can improve this Tottenham side further.
At the moment, Spurs look set to be heading to a future without Dele Alli as a January loan move looks to be on the table for the attacking midfielder, despite his recent positive performances.
Out of the options currently at his disposal, Conte seems to have most of the pieces to make his system work.
However, one area that he could look to improve on is in defence.
Ben Davies has deputised as the left-sided centre back in Conte's famed back-three system, and though it hasn't been the most ideal solution, Davies has done about as well as anyone would expect him to.
Therefore, bringing in a more natural fit for that role is of paramount importance for Tottenham.
Conte has previously had Alessandro Bastoni in that role and the 22-year-old excelled under him at Inter.
A similar left-footed centre back who is strong in bringing the ball out from the back and further supporting ball progression would be ideal for Spurs.
Two options worth exploring in the Bundesliga could be SC Freiburg’s Nico Schlotterbeck and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Evan N’dicka.
Both players are used to a back-three system on the left and are good on and off the ball.
Bringing that right profile of defender might just be the final piece of the puzzle for Conte and Spurs as they look to gate-crash the top four this season.